Sunday, June 30, 2013

Freebies galore and garden delights

Book News:

My epic gay-themed fantasy series The Gathandrian Trilogy now has its own Facebook page, and many thanks to those who've already joined up. All visitors more than welcome, and don't forget all the books are FREE.

The first in the series, The Gifting, can be downloaded for free at a wide variety of online book retailers, the newest of which is Obooko Books and Free Ebooks websites. So far in total (as far as I can tell, or am told), about 200 readers have already downloaded it, so I hope at least some of them are enjoying the read.

Meanwhile the second in the series, Hallsfoot's Battle, is due out in July and will also be a free book. As you can see, the cover art is now chosen and I'm very happy indeed with it. This one concentrates more on the story of Annyeke Hallsfoot, the kick-ass redheaded (hmm, wonder where I get that from, eh ...) new Acting Elder of the Gathandrian city, although the ongoing rollercoaster saga of Simon and Ralph is not overlooked at all. Here's the blurb:

Gelahn the Mind Executioner begins his battle campaign. His powers are unmatched - even without the mind-cane in his possession - and next he will break and possess Ralph Tregannon the Lammas Overlord. Recently appointed Acting Elder and left in sole charge of her people, Annyeke Hallsfoot draws on all her mind-skills and courage as the fight for Gathandria rages. The precious ancient legends are her bedrock and she begins teaching their wisdom to the scribe, Simon Hartstongue, who must quickly learn to work with the mind-cane's strange powers.  But Simon is distracted by his own demons and only fears the artefact, so Annyeke must plot a desperate strategy to defeat the enemy. As the Gathandrians rally behind their new leader, Gelahn strikes at the very heart of the city.

Keeping to the subject of free books, my Christian novella The Prayer Seeker is now FREE at Smashwords and Omnilit Books. So far it's been downloaded about 80 times, which is nice. Here's the blurb:

Michael Woodthorpe hasn’t attended church for many years, not since his time as an evangelical in his early twenties. One winter he decides to take early retirement in order to search for the God he used to know.

As he comes to terms with his new existence, he must face opposition from both his ex-girlfriend, and his ex-wife, whom he hasn’t seen for many years. Meanwhile, he begins a series of religious encounters with a spiritual director and slowly discovers the riches of prayer. When his journey brings him face to face with the mistakes in the past which had made him walk away from God, he must find a way to resolve them if he is to fulfil his God-given potential at all. 

In other book news, I am offering three free ebooks of gay thriller Maloney's Law in a BookLikes giveaway competition, so enter now to avoid disappointment! The competition ends on 5 July. Maloney's Law has just gained two new 4-star reviews at Goodreads, one from Lorraine, and one from Tricia who says:

"A thriller, a mystery, a tragedy, and a romance in only a dark sense. Totally worth the read and impossible to put down. New author for me, I will be looking for more titles from Anne Brooke."

In addition, Maloney's Law gained a 4.5 star review at Top2Bottom Reviews which included the following:

"Once you get into this book it's impossible to put it down. Every time you think you have it figured out, it proves you wrong. In other words it's the perfect detective book! The characters were very strong and the backstory couldn't have been better."

Goodness, many thanks indeed to all these readers and reviewers. Not to be outdone, The Bones of Summer (Maloney *2) is now available as a paperback at Amazon US. It has also this week gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (many thanks again, Lorraine).

Turning to short stories now, gay literary erotic story The Beginning of Knowledge gained a 4-star review at Pants Off Reviews, which included the following:

"Once again Anne Brooke has pulled off an emotional winning read in so few pages. Her talent for capturing human emotions, kink, and flawed characters never ceases to amaze me … The ending is bittersweet but it felt right and I am happy with it (satisfied). If this is the kind of read Wilde City Press is pushing out, then I am so on board. The Beginning of Knowledge is another winner by the queen of shorts, Ms Anne Brooke."

Well gosh, thank you. Gay romantic comedy Who Moved My Holepunch? received a 5-star review at Amazon US, and also free gay poetry anthology Falling Awake was given 5 stars at The Novel Approach Reviews, who say:

"Each piece is but a small window through which the reader is able to catch a glimpse of the authors' creative talents, each piece telling a story - a beginning, middle, and end - in all the rich tones of a free-form and lyrical language …Falling Awake, in some ways, reads like flash fiction that has been structured with a cadence and rhythm all its own."

Life News:

I was more than startled when one of our church ladies rang up this week to say how thrilled she was that I've agreed to join the group set up to read Christian stories to the children at the local school. What??!!?? All my most hated activities in one fell swoop, oh what joy. I told her it was the first I'd heard of it, I hated children and avoided them at all costs and it would be like putting Cruella de Vil in charge of the kennels. She sounded a tad put-out at my response, but certainly not as put-out as I was. Mind you, immediately afterwards, K said I'd missed a golden opportunity to introduce the local Young People to the joys of gay erotic fiction, and I should have said I'd go along and then read them some of my own work. After all, as one of my Facebook friends reminded me, my erotic comedy School for Doms is surely an educational story (it's set in a school at least ...) and would be perfect for the occasion. Hey ho. Maybe I should ring her back? Ah, the temptation ...

This week's cake was a disaster, my dears, a disaster. Though thankfully, the lovely K managed to salvage it with the icing I'd left him to cope with when I went off to help out at the University open day. It's supposed to be White Chocolate Coffee Gateau but I have renamed it (thank you, Karen!) to White Chocolate Coffee Terror Gateau. It surely has one of the most complicated recipes known to humankind - some of which involves heating two different sets of substances at the same time whilst whisking one of them with an electric whisk. Arrgghhh!! Who creates such torture?? They should be stopped at once.

Suffice it to say that K appeared in the kitchen at exactly the right time to point out that I was managing to melt the electric lead in the gas flame and some of the bits were dripping into the mixture. Oh hell. It's astonishing we're all still alive and in one piece really. Though I like to think the wiring added extra protein to the cake. I also think I baked it too long (well, I was frightened to bring it out in case it turned against me, my dears) and it has basically turned into biscuit wrapped in custard (ie that icing). But what the hell - we're English and we'll eat the dang thing if it kills us. It's the Empire spirit, don't you know.

Anyway, thank goodness for the garden to make everything calm again and the joys - today - of coffee, juice, croissants and pain au chocolat on the patio for breakfast. True bliss.

So here are sweetpeas fresh from the garden, clematis, lilies, the petunia and pansy bed, the rose garden, the trellis roses and the lychnis.

Happy Sunday!

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
The Gathandrian Trilogy: free fantasy series
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Free Gifts and the Wilde Side

Book News

In order to celebrate my 49th birthday on 21 June, gay spiritual fantasy The Gifting is now available for FREE from Smashwords and Omnilit Books, and will be for the foreseeable future, so do pop along and download a birthday treat from me, with my compliments. Happy reading!

I was also pleased that the book was on the front page of the Kindle Book Review during the week, so that was great.

Over at Mrs Condit Reviews, gay thriller The Bones of Summer gained a 4-star review which was lovely:

"Well, Anne Brooke has done it to me again. I read the first book in the series (Maloney's Law) where Paul Maloney, a broken man, was the main character. At the end of the book, he met Craig Robertson and even though they didn't end up together, they established a connection. This is Craig's story. And what a story it is."

And FREE gay poetry collection Falling Awake gained a 5-star review from On Top Down Under Reviews:

"It has been a very long time since I sat down with a book of poetry … While I may be no expert, I do know what I like and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of twenty individual pieces from Wilde City Press."

Not to be outdone, gay erotic romance The Heart's Greater Silence received a 5-star review at Goodreads, and is described as: "Emotionally raw and intense and beautifully written." 

Gosh, thank you! Meanwhile, don't forget that it's Pride Month (hurrah!) and all my lesbian fiction at Untreed Reads is discounted until 30 June - so do pop along and happy reading.

Carrying on my weekend birthday celebrations, there's an interview with me as part of Wilde City Week at The Novel Approach reviews. I hope you'll have time to pop by - I can promise you a decent slice of cake and a laugh or two. Ideal for a Sunday.

Oh and recently I've had a couple of queries about what is going on in Anne's Book World and what's in the pipeline (thank you for asking, Mother, and yes the cheque's in the post, honest ...), so I've updated my Latest News section on the website if you'd like to keep up to date. Thank you.

Life News:

For those of you who've not been paying attention (perish the thought!) it was my 49th birthday on 21 June (have I said that already?...), and I had a thoroughly good time. A day out at gorgeous Wisley, chocolate and champagne, and my world was perfect, hurrah. We managed to see the sheep-eating cactus plant which only blooms once every ten years or so, which was great. Apparently it entices the sheep towards it with the smell from the flowers, and then the sheep gets trapped on the spikes at the bottom of the cactus, dies slowly and provides the plant with enough fertiliser to carry on. Ah, nature: red of tooth and claw. How I love it!

I've also been enjoying our own garden which is joyfully coming into full bloom with the warmer weather, so here are some pics of alliums near the bench & shrubbery, a sunflower (now sadly blown off in the wind this morning, sob ...), Paris heuchera, a scented peony, a Manhattan Lights lupin (my favourite lupin) and our newest lilies. Enjoy!

And, to end, the Angry Ex-Anglican (as I'm now calling myself) ponders if the House of Bishops would be more accurately described as a veritable Brood of Vipers. You decide...

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
The Gifting: FREE gay spiritual fantasy
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Poetry, cupcakes and fan mail

Book News:

Gay poetry collection, Falling Awake, is now available for FREE at Wilde City Press, and includes some of my own gay poetry, including the title poem:

Falling Awake

Burnt ochre sands
the colour of my lover's hair
flame with the evening's pulse
a skin-whispered prayer

for I am falling
to where dusk-dark waters enfold me,
each floating step a liquid heat
drawing me down until I see

only flesh and ocean
and the sea-green pull of his eyes.
Drowning I breathe in salt
which laps my tongue's surprise

until he is gone
when, dream-shimmered, I shake
and cry, drifting with loss
in the tide's lull, falling awake.

I hope you enjoy the read, and don't forget - it's free! Also this week, all my Amber Allure gay fiction is discounted at All Romance Ebooks, so the ideal shopping time for you.

Meanwhile, I'm very happy to say that gay romantic thriller The Bones of Summer is now available at Amazon US and Amazon UK, and so far it's doing all right. Phew. Not to be outdone, the prequel Maloney's Law gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, with the below comment:

"One of the old school mysteries. It was great."

Gosh, thank you - I really appreciate that. Also at Goodreads, gay erotic story Where You Hurt The Most gained a 4.5 star review, which included the following:

"This was a fantastic story about healing and connection. It had depth and was thoroughly enjoyable. I definitely recommend it."

Again, thank you.

Finally and, for me as a below-the parapet (way, way below) writer, it was lovely to receive my first piece of fan email for 2013. A lovely comment from a reader who enjoyed my gay spiritual fantasy The Gifting so much that she wanted to know when the follow-up, Hallsfoot's Battle, would be out.

Gosh, many thanks indeed! My current plan is to publish Hallsfoot's Battle in July, and then the final part of the trilogy, The Executioner's Cane, in September/October. I hope some of you out there might still join me on Simon's and Ralph's journeys, not to mention keeping up with the developing relationship of Annyeke and Johan. Something for everyone there, I hope. 

Life News:

A wonderful sermon today about the extravagant love of God which gave me much inspirational food for thought. And which is sadly opposed to the view of God's love which the House of Bishops obviously has, as I point out in my Angry Anglican blog today. Is it time to call the wretched House of Bishops to account? Lord preserve us, I really do hope so, as their God is assuredly way too small ...

Anyway, turning to happier subjects, this week's cake is Marbled Cupcakes. And not Married Cupcakes as some have misread it. Mind you, surely married cupcakes are something the Church of England might be happy to bless, just as long as their marbled patterns were opposite to each other, rather than similar. Ho hum and a deep enduring sigh.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Gifts, birthdays and gay marriage

Book News:

Epic gay fantasy The Gifting is now available in all formats at Smashwords and Omnilit Books (where you can also read through the first chapter) at the bargain price of only $0.99 or 65p. Here's a quick reminder of the blurb together with a couple of reviews it's garnered in its previous life:

Simon Hartstongue is a mind-reader, and branded a coward and a murderer. When his overlord and lover Ralph Tregannon turns against him, he is forced to embark on a treacherous journey to the distant and magical land of Gathandria in order to save his country and his own soul. During a series of terrifying trials, Simon must encounter the trickery of the deadly Mind Executioner and the secret dealings of those he ought to trust.

"The Gifting is a unique fantasy where mental and physical worlds merge in a flight of unrestrained imagination. Unlike much fantasy I've read lately, this book soars with hope. It's a story of redemption gained through a mystical journey through earth, air, fire and water that tests the deepest recesses of a man's soul." (Awesome Indies Reviews)

"The Gifting is merely the introduction to the Gathandrian Trilogy; it's a big world, filled with intrigues and magic, loss and redemption. It's a fantastical place where almost anything is possible, where a coward can become a hero, where the promise for more excitement and enchantment are guaranteed, and I look forward to seeing where Anne Brooke will take us next, as well as discovering what Simon's future holds." (Top2Bottom Reviews)

It's quite interesting that in the two years this book was with a small publisher, it managed to sell the grand total of 20 copies, even with being showcased by the Awesome Indies website (see above review comments) - but now I've self published it, I've sold 16 copies in the first week. Not bad going really. A lesson to ponder on, that's for sure!

Gay mystery The Bones of Summer (Maloney *2) is also featured over at the Amber Allure Blog, so do feel free to pop in for a visit at any time.

And as June is Pride Month, all my gay titles have a 25% discount at Amber Allure Press, and my lesbian titles carry a 30% discount at Untreed Reads for the whole month. Happy shopping!

Life News:

The Anglican leadership has been playing silly devils with us all again (surprise, surprise ...) over the issue of equal marriage. I was immensely proud to take part in the Equal Marriage Rally outside the House of Lords on Monday, and only wish I'd had a flag to wave during the event. Or even a jazzy umbrella like the one Peter Tatchell is holding in the picture.

So I was utterly thrilled when the bill passed through the House of Lords with such a strong majority - and not all all surprised (though deeply angered and ashamed) when of the 14 Anglican Bishops present in the House on the occasion, 9 voted against the Bill and 5 abstained (even those who'd spoken for it). However it was lovely to realise that, by the grace of God, the Lords are thankfully well able to save us from the spiritual cowardice of the Bishops.

Anyway, as a result, I wrote an open letter to the Archbishop afterwards, as he'd made some stupid, hurtful and very crass comments during his speech, a letter which I have put on my Angry Anglican blog. I doubt the Church of England is listening, but I wanted to have my say. I've also been highly amused most recently by the fact that the Church of England is now saying that it will "graciously concede defeat" and work towards supporting the Equal Marriage Bill (even though they were actually rather ignominiously defeated by the majority of opinion against them, and really have a decent amount of egg on their faces right now). But Lord preserve us!! The last thing we folk want is that mealy-mouthed bunch of bishops getting their hands on a perfectly good Bill. Please God they don't manage to mess it up as much as they messed up the Women Bishops vote. Perhaps we can somehow distract them with some other crisis - say, sex abuse and bullying in the church, for instance - while reasonable people get on with the task of bringing God's kingdom to earth? It's the only way, I fear ...

Mind you, I have been highly amused by this article on the possibility of the Archbishop setting up fertility clinics for engaged couples, if he's so keen on peopling the nation. Now that would be truly wonderful! And would at least give the wretched man something useful to do, hey ho.

Turning to happier news, I was rather startled to be greeted by my lovely neighbour, L, earlier in the week as I returned home from work - who simply couldn't wait to tell me that after weeks of thorough searching, she'd finally got THE perfect 50th birthday present for me later on this month. I whooped with joy and delight and danced round the car for a bit with her, as one does - and then asked if it could keep for a year, as actually I'm 49 this month as I'm a 1964 baby. Oh no!! Apparently it can't keep and I have traumatised the neighbours by not being old enough, alas. However, after some hysterical giggling, we have agreed that I will officially be 50 this year and 49 next - so problem solved. I can't wait to see what the present is either.

June indeed must be here at last, as the first of our roses is fully in bloom, and there are loads of buds on the others, which is hopeful. I look forward to a riot of colour and scent in the next few weeks, deer willing, of course.

Finally, yesterday's cake was Lemon Cake, which is one of the easiest recipes I have and tastes really lovely. Thank goodness I have a new electric whisk which works like a dream, hurrah.

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
The Gifting: gay spiritual fantasy
Biblical Fiction UK
Lori Olding Children's Author

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Bones, fantasy and equal marriage hope

Book News:

I'm happy to announce that my gay fantasy, The Gifting, is now published on the Kindle with a brand-new cover, which I really do love. So you can pick up a copy at the bargain price of only 77p at Amazon UK and $1.15 at Amazon US.

Here's the blurb:

Simon Hartstongue is a mind-reader, and branded a coward and a murderer. When his overlord and lover Ralph Tregannon turns against him, he is forced to embark on a treacherous journey to the distant and magical land of Gathandria in order to save his country and his own soul. During a series of terrifying trials, Simon must encounter the trickery of the deadly Mind Executioner and the secret dealings of those he ought to trust.

The Gifting is an Awesome Indies novel, and is showcased at the Awesome Indies website.


"The Gifting is a unique fantasy where mental and physical worlds merge in a flight of unrestrained imagination. Unlike much fantasy I've read lately, this book soars with hope. It's a story of redemption gained through a mystical journey through earth, air, fire and water that tests the deepest recesses of a man's soul." (Awesome Indies Reviews)

"The Gifting is merely the introduction to the Gathandrian Trilogy; it's a big world, filled with intrigues and magic, loss and redemption. It's a fantastical place where almost anything is possible, where a coward can become a hero, where the promise for more excitement and enchantment are guaranteed, and I look forward to seeing where Anne Brooke will take us next, as well as discovering what Simon's future holds." (Top2Bottom Reviews)

The romance between Simon and Ralph is a difficult one, and very slow-burn over the trilogy, so watch out for the follow-up, Hallsfoot's Battle, later in the summer, and the finale, The Executioner's Cane, coming in the autumn. Happy reading!

And published today is gay thriller, The Bones of Summer, the sequel to Maloney's Law. You can pick up your copy at a first-week discount price at Amber Allure Press, and also at All Romance Ebooks.

Here's the blurb:

When Craig Robertson's religious fanatic father disappears, Craig is forced to return to the home he left behind after an underage affair in order to look for answers. He takes with him his new lover, private investigator Paul Maloney, who is more than willing to help solve the mystery.
The search soon becomes an investigation into Craig's past, and, because of distressing gaps in his memory, he's terrified of the truths he might find. As Craig's obsession with uncovering clues grows, his fragile relationship with Paul begins to disintegrate. Haunted and stalked, Craig has to face down the horror of his memories if he wants to have any hope of a future at all.

The Bones of Summer was awarded third place in the inaugural 2009 Rainbow Mystery Fiction Awards, and was also Commended in the Annual Writers' Conference Novel Competition 2008.

Speaking of Maloney's Law, it gained a 5 star review at Goodreads this week, which said:

"It was very enthralling to read about his [Maloney's] obsession/amour fou and how this develops intertwined with the crime plot."

Not to be outdone, gay romantic comedy Who Moved My Holepunch?received a 5-star review at Goodreads, and a 4-star review at Amazon US. The Goodreads review called it a "gorgeously funny story" and the Amazon review considered it to be "smart and funny erotica". That's certainly put a smile on my face - many thanks, both.

Meanwhile, biblical short story collection The Betrayal of Birds was briefly at No 82 in the Amazon US Christian Short Story charts, so that was jolly nice too.

Life News:

The vitally important news of this week is that the Equal Marriage Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Monday and Tuesday coming. Once again the Church of England House of Bishops is very high-handedly stating publicly that we as a Church don't support it. Well, excuse me, but I don't believe the House of Bishops has ever had the humility actually to consult the silent presence in their pews over what we believe and long for, so right back at them, I say this: I one-hundred percent support the Equal Marriage Bill precisely because I'm a Christian, and not in any way in spite of it, so put that in your pipes (or indeed elsewhere) and smoke it. After all, you, dear Bishops, messed up the women bishops vote, so you've long since lost my trust, really. I don't credit a single word you say, and I don't think God does much, either. Harrumph!

Anyway, there's going to be an Equal Marriage Rally in Westminster tomorrow evening from 5.30pm onwards, and I am going to be there, as a straight Christian supporting justice, equality and simple common sense. I hope others of you out there of like mind will perhaps feel able to join me. I'm not convinced the House of Lords will do the right thing (does it ever?) but I want to make my small stand as best I can. With this in mind, I have also sent the House of Lords an email, which I hope they might ponder over for a least a few seconds. It said this:

"I understand the discussion about the Equal Marriage bill is happening in the House of Lords next week, and as a Christian and Church of England attender, I would somehow like to convey my support of and belief in this very important bill.

It saddens and angers me when the media and indeed the House of Bishops themselves produce statements which say that all Christians are against equal marriage - well, not in my name as, on the contrary, I believe in it precisely because I am a Christian.

I would love to think that in my lifetime people of the same gender who are adult and love each other could also make the same wonderful commitment to each other in marriage that I have had the benefit and joy of for the last 20 years. I hope therefore that someone in the House of Lords might be willing to speak for the bill, and the desire and will of the majority of the British people, and indeed some of the Christians in this country too.

Many thanks indeed".

In other news, the horses have returned to the field at the back of our garden for their summer (which is lovely) and they have a new foal.

And the garden is also looking good, with the second rhododendron now fully in bloom, hurrah. The third one isn't too far behind either. Speaking of the garden, we spent a wonderful morning yesterday at the Crocus Nursery buying lots of goodies from their post-Chelsea Flower Show sale. So we now have an orange poppy, a pink peony, an orange euphorbia and three really tall and totally fabulous Irises which I am now in love with. Amongst other delights. I've now planted them all out and even potted on the dahlias so feel very smug.

Yesterday's cake was Chocolate Gooey Cake, which was all going swimmingly until I tried to get it out of the tin and it broke into 5 pieces. Disaster and weeping in the shires, I can tell you! Still, I've wedged it together as best I can and hope it won't taste too bad when we tackle it this evening.

Oh, and church this morning was actually very enjoyable - which I wasn't expecting at all, being the Gold Medal Cynical Christian of The Year (for several years running, actually) - but I fear we, as a small country church, are somewhat outclassed by the evident skills of our new organist. We'll have to up our game, for sure! Interestingly, after the service one of the church ladies asked if we were on the electoral roll (we came off it in March for spiritual and political reasons). I said we weren't. She asked if we would like to be on it, and I said no thank you, but thank you for asking. She looked rather bemused, but didn't ask why not, which was a shame as my answer was all prepared too. If anyone's interested out there, it's this: we enjoy coming to worship God in our local church, but we don't actually want to be an official part of a larger organisation which is self-evidently both homophobic and misogynistic. Which no doubt makes me a hypocrite, but really I'm doing the best I can. Hey ho.

Anne Brooke
The Gifting: gay fantasy romance
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
Lori Olding Children's Author